After a nationwide surge of new coronavirus cases delayed major employers’ plans for in-person work, Goldman Sachs is preparing to welcome employees back to the office.
Chief Operating Officer John Waldron has hinted at possible plans to bring more workers back to his offices in the coming weeks. Bloomberg reported Waldron’s comments during a virtual meeting with the New Jersey State Investment Council.
“We think we can start putting more people in our offices, and you’ll see us making announcements on that, starting in February,” Waldron told the board. “We really believe deeply, certainly for Goldman Sachs, that we work best when we’re together.”
While the bank harbors ambitions to bring employees back to the office, it may not be full-time. According to Bloomberg, Waldron said the company expects more flexibility and hybrid working in the future.
Goldman Sachs was among the top US banks that kicked off the new year by offering employees the option to work from home for the first weeks of 2022. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America also pushed back on any plans to return employees to the office as New York City has faced an increase in cases linked to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Waldron said about 20% of U.S. Goldman Sachs employees are already back in the office, according to Bloomberg.
The wave of infections amid the spread of the Omicron variant was the second major setback in 2021 for the office market, which has struggled as more employers embrace remote working. The spread of the Delta variant sparked a midsummer surge in cases across the country, upending many companies’ plans to get employees back to the office before Labor Day.
Omicron’s lasting impact on the office market remains to be seen. In November, Manhattan office tenants signed leases totaling more than 3 million square feet, the first month to exceed the benchmark since January 2020. Despite the increase, the availability rate was 16.9%, or still 3.4 percentage points more than the previous year.[Bloomberg] —Holden Walter-Warner